EARLY in the morning, Mary Kanyaire, 33, collects water and firewood, and then prepares a meal for her two school-going children before she heads out to the fields, approximately 3 kilometers away from her homestead.
Alone, under the hot sun, she weeds groundnuts in a sandy field with a hoe. Although she knows she will not get a good yield, she strives on, buckets of sweat pouring down her face. Continue reading
By Godsway Shumba
“Lord! Give me another chance. I want to live and look after my children. They are still very young.”
Vimbayi (not her real name) repeated this prayer for several nights during her last days. In spite of her desperate prayers, she died at the age of 28, leaving behind two children.
Perhaps the saddest part is that her death was avoidable if she had had the correct information and people to support her.
A relative of Vimbayi, I finally got a chance to see her five months after hearing of her failing health. By that time, she was very weak. I asked her husband whether she had been tested for tuberculosis. He handed me her medical records.
At first, I thought that this was a breach of confidentiality. Later, I realised time was running out and we needed to do our best from an informed position. In my community, before HIV/Aids, people easily shared medical records.
But the Aids stigma changed the way people share information about their health.
The records confirmed that two sputum tests for TB had produced negative results. Unlike her husband, I also realised that Vimbayi had tested positive for HIV. As someone who was working in the HIV/Aids field, I knew the meaning of phrases such as “patient referred to OI (Opportunistic Infection) Clinic” and “post-test counselling done and positive living discussed”.
Prophylaxis treatment had been prescribed but I could not see any signs of it. She told me she stopped taking it two months previously because there had been no improvement.